Coach happy with plan to rename court

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, March 8, 2019
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson watches the action in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson watches the action in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

— It was hard to tell which made University of Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson happier on Wednesday - his team's 84-48 victory over Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym or the announcement that UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz has submitted a resolution for consideration by the Board of Trustees to name the Walton Arena court in honor of Nolan Richardson.

"Hallelujah!" Anderson said when asked his reaction. "I'm more than happy. I'm overjoyed."

Anderson stressed that he understands the resolution is the first step in a process, but he's excited and hopeful the end result will be that the Razorbacks are playing on "Nolan Richardson Court" next season.

The board will consider the resolution during its next meeting March 27-28 in Hot Springs.

Anderson played for Richardson at the University of Tulsa and then was his assistant coach at Arkansas for 17 seasons.

"No one deserves it more than Coach Richardson and what he's done for the University of Arkansas, the state and not only that, but college basketball," Anderson said. "So I'm excited to hear there's a resolution and looking forward to it hopefully actually happening. I've been looking forward to that day for a long time. The people in the state of Arkansas, the university administration, I think they know they have something really, really special in Coach Richardson -- and he still lives here. That says a lot."

Richardson, a Naismith Hall of Fame inductee and member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and UA Hall of Honor, led the Razorbacks to a school-record 389 victories and 13 NCAA Tournaments with three Final Four appearances, including the 1994 national championship and 1995 runner-up finish to UCLA.

But Richardson's Arkansas tenure did not end well. He was fired with one game remaining in the 2001-02 season and Anderson served as interim coach for the regular-season finale -- an 81-67 victory over Vanderbilt -- and for the Razorbacks' 68-61 loss to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament.

Richardson sued the university for racial discrimination in federal court, but the lawsuit was dismissed after a lengthy trial in Little Rock. The dismissal was upheld by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis.

Relations between Richardson and the UA have improved significantly since then to the extent that he and the 1994 team twice have been honored in Walton Arena -- in 2009 on the 15th anniversary of the national title and last Saturday at the Arkansas-Ole Miss game on the 25th anniversary.

After the 1994 Razorbacks were introduced during a halftime ceremony, Richardson led the crowd in a Hog Call.

The UA also recognized Richardson by raising a banner to the Walton Arena rafters in 2015.

Richardson frequently attends games in Walton Arena and always receives loud cheers when he's shown on the scoreboards' big screens.

"Time moves on," Anderson said of the reconciliation between his mentor and the university. "What are the things that are really important?

"You move past all the hardships and all the words that were said, and then you look at the heart of that person.

"I'm elated about this news, and hopefully looking forward to it happening. It's a resolution, but I'm just glad to hear the news that it's moving forward."

Sports on 03/08/2019

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